Tragically, technology hasn’t yet advanced so far that we can smell through our TVs and computer screens, which makes advertising the world’s most glamorous perfumes a bit of a minefield. It can be quite a challenge to sell a product that’s based on the sense of smell using only the powers of sight and sound. But it’s not impossible, as the recent spectacular Spike Jonze advert for Kenzo illustrates, with finesse, humour and a big dollop of sex appeal. Perfume adverts are traditionally sensual and occasionally cliched affairs, but some nail that perfect combination of heady sexiness and tongue-in-cheek brand awareness a whole lot better than others. Here are some with an appeal that goes beyond the olfactory.
Kenzo World (2016)
Is this the greatest perfume advert of all time? Eschewing the long-held scent-selling traditions of soft-focus mood lighting and sensual music, this commercial for Kenzo World is truly avant-garde and seriously funny. The Japanese-French brand must have known what it was getting itself in for when it commissioned Hollywood’s most rebellious director, Spike Jonze, to direct Margaret Qualley in this hilarious, imaginary, gun-toting take on how to escape the crippling boredom of a black-tie ball.
Calvin Klein Deep Euphoria (2016)
Thanks to her roles in The Wolf of Wall Street and Suicide Squad, Margot Robbie has become quite the sought-after actor, exuding a healthy amount of sex appeal. So it’s no surprise Calvin Klein snapped her up to star in its latest commercial for its Deep Euphoria perfume. She uses her legendary sensuality to smoulder throughout the commercial, which opens in a New York hotel and follows Robbie as she picks up a male model at a warehouse party and brings him home (see more of Calvin Klein’s provocative campaigns). Lucky boy.
Yves Saint Laurent Parisienne (2009)
Kate Moss has always been the queen of controversy, and this provocative commercial took up quite a few column inches when it hit the airwaves back in October 2009. The sensual relationship Moss developed with a rose might have been a little too much for certain viewers – YSL received a record number of complaints about it – but we think it only proves why people love the supermodel, and the edgy brand, so much.
Givenchy Gentlemen Only (2015)
Ever since The Devil Wears Prada, Simon Baker has been indelibly associated with seducing women in the most picturesque parts of Paris. In this commercial for Givenchy he reprises his most famous role, cycling down a beautiful cobbled street in the Marais to help a glamorous woman delayed by suspiciously not-all-that-inconvenient roadworks. Which is obviously what’s going to happen when you’re in the most romantic city on earth.
Gucci Premiere (2012)
Nicolas Winding Refn, the director of critically acclaimed films including Drive and Only God Forgives, turned his back on poor old Ryan Gosling in order to try out the glamorous world of perfume commercials. We follow Blake Lively, looking spectacular in a shimmering gold dress, as she spritzes herself with the famous scent while looking across Los Angeles, before watching her stalk across the desert towards a giant fan. All very Old Hollywood.